4 players Mets could dangle when MLB lockout ends



Jeff McNeil treated art, sunglasses on preparing to throw 2021

Jeff McNeil treated art, sunglasses on preparing to throw 2021

Before the MLB lockout froze all activity, the Mets went on a free agent frenzy that culminated with the signing of Max Scherzer.

There will still be work to do when the lockout ends, with the Mets in need of more starting pitching, reinforcements in the bullpen, and perhaps not out on big-ticket free agents such as Kris Bryant.

When it comes to trades, Billy Eppler and Sandy Alderson have made it known that the Mets are reluctant to part with any of their most prized prospects.

The above makes sense because while the Mets have four top 100 prospects and a few others who could be at that level soon, their farm system is not deep and falls off dramatically after the first half dozen or so players.

So, which Mets could be on the trading block?

Why he could be dealt

McNeil is coming off a down year that followed three very successful seasons to start his career.

There was also the dustup with Francisco Lindor during the season, reportedly due in part to an issue with defensive assignments.

At this point, McNeil is the Mets’ likely starting second baseman on Opening Day. But if New York adds Bryant or another impact infielder, McNeil — with the outfield already full unless the Mets slide one of those players to DH (if there is one) — will be frozen out.

And with McNeil under team control through the 2024 season and making relatively little, he could be a valuable trade chip.

Why he could be kept

McNeil should be appealing to the Mets for the same reason he would likely be appealing to other teams.

He is under team control for three more seasons at a low cost, can play multiple infield and outfield positions, and seems due for a bounce back in 2022.

If the Mets don’t add another “big” player to the infield mix, their options at second base will likely be McNeil and Robinson Cano.

And there is no situation where the Mets should be entering next season expecting anything from Cano.

J.D. Davis

J.D. Davis

Why he could be dealt

There is really no defensive home for Davis, who is not an option in the outfield and not an option at third base despite his giving it his all at the hot corner.

Davis, who battled a hand issue all season that limited him to 73 games and sapped his power (and led to offseason surgery), has now had two straight down seasons after a terrific 2019.

He also struggled in limited playing time in 2017 and 2018 with the Houston Astros.

Davis himself said toward the end of the 2021 season that it felt like his time with the Mets could be over.

Why he could be kept

If the Mets feel Davis is more likely to be the hitter he was in 2019 than the one he’s been the other years of his career, it could make sense to keep him.

The issue is that — unlike Smith, who can spell Pete Alonso at first base and play left field in an emergency — Davis would basically be only a DH option and pinch-hitter.

Still, there could be value there if the Mets are still bullish on Davis’ bat.

But if another team comes calling with an enticing trade offer, it could be hard for New York to say no.

Dominic Smith

Dominic Smith


Why he could be dealt

Smith’s 2021 season was as disappointing as his 2019 and 2020 campaigns were impressive.

He slashed just .244/.304/.363 in 145 games in what was his first year playing more than 89 games in a big league season.

So, was 2021 the aberration or were the 139 games Smith hit well in 2019 and 2020 the aberration?

The above is what the Mets will have to decide when figuring out what to do with Smith, who should not be in the outfield (and there’s no longer any room for him there anyway).

Why he could be kept

Smith is still young (he’s entering his age-27 season), still inexpensive, and under team control through 2024.

And with the DH likely coming to the National League, the left-handed Smith could be a solid option as the long end of a DH platoon.

For those who think Smith should play first base with Alonso becoming DH, it should be noted that Alonso is on the record as being uninterested in being a DH.

The Mets could force the issue, but it would be foolish to anger Alonso — who is a game-changing hitter and has become a solid defender at first base — to accommodate Smith.

Ronny Mauricio

Ronny Mauricio


Why he could be dealt

He really shouldn’t be, not with the Mets’ farm system lacking depth and Mauricio being one of their top prospects.

But if the Mets decide to make a trade for an impact player and aren’t able to do it without including one of their top prospects, Mauricio seems like the one who it could make the most sense to deal.

One reason is because the Mets’ other top prospects — Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty — should be off limits. And Mark Vientos is close to the majors and a potential impact bat.

Another reason is because Mauricio (currently at shortstop, but a possibility to slide to third base or perhaps center field) might not be the best fit for the roster — especially if the Mets add another impact infielder.

Why he could be kept

Still only 20 years old, Mauricio’s numbers this past season for High-A Brooklyn and Double-A Binghamton (.248/.296/.449 with 20 homers, 15 doubles, and five triples) were impressive.

And those numbers are even more impressive when you realize that Mauricio was roughly four years younger than the average player in Binghamton and roughly three years younger than the average player in Brooklyn.

The Mets should also not be worrying yet about Mauricio’s fit, with his being unlikely to make an impact until 2023.

In the event Mauricio is knocking on the door and ready to be a starting player by 2023, the Mets could always trade someone to accommodate him.


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